Tech and sustainability: A detailed audience perspective
April 6th, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

Tech and sustainability: A detailed audience perspective

As consumers and governments grow more concerned about symptoms of environmental degradation such as global warming and e-waste, brands that take the lead on sustainable development are expected to shape the future of various industries. The pivot to sustainable development will be more crucial in some sectors than in others, and the tech industry could be among them.

A new YouGov segmentation study explores the present demand for sustainable electronics in the US and UK, the key demographics of Sustainability Supporters, and the factors that sustainability-based audience segments consider when buying tech products – among other relevant data points.

The main segments explored in the article, and the share of the population they make up in each market, are as follows:

No interest in recycling – 20% (UK) / 28% (US) – Members of this group have never purchased refurbished devices, do not see sustainability as good reason to buy them, and prefer to throw away old devices.

Sustainability Orientated – 39% (UK) / 33% (US) – This group contains consumers who have never purchased refurbished devices but would consider and somewhat see sustainability as a good reason to do so, prefer to store old devices in their homes.

Sustainability Supporters – 41% (UK) / 39% (US) – Members of this segment have purchased refurbished devices in the past and are incentivized to do so to be more eco-friendly, utilizing several approaches to old devices such as selling and passing on to friends and family.

What are the demographics?

Consumers over 55 constitute a bigger share of the ‘no interest in recycling’ than they do of the other segments. But the correlation between age and inclination towards sustainability isn’t perfectly linear.

For example, in the US, the two youngest age categories make up a much bigger share of the Sustainability Orientated segment than the Sustainability Supporters one (36% vs 27%).

Some other key demographic observations include that higher income group members over-index in the Sustainability Orientated segment in the UK. They make up 22% of this category compared to only 17% of the No Interest in Recycling group and 18% of the Sustainability Supporters’ group.

In the US, on the other hand, high income members are over-represented in the No Interest in Recycling group at 10% compared to 7% and 8% of the Sustainability Orientated and Sustainability Supporters groups respectively.

What factors do these audiences consider in consumer electronics?

Across all audience segments in the UK, price, ease of use and availability of features are the top-ranking factors when buying devices in the future.

But a third of Sustainability Orientated (34%) and a slightly higher share of Sustainability Supporters rate the environmentally friendly credentials of consumer electronics as a key consideration. The Sustainability Supporters and No Interest in Recycling groups are also less focused on privacy and security features, and the latter are also less interested in sustainable/ environmentally friendly aspects.

Many of the same features that are important in the UK are also important in the US – in fact, the top four factors are a perfect match.

But Integration with other devices is more important to American consumers on the whole than sustainability, which ranks sixth. The No Interest in Recycling group is likelier to take note of privacy and security features, whereas the other groups look more closely at ease of use and integration with other devices.

Appetite for refurbished products

A whopping three-quarters of Sustainability Supporters in the UK say they would consider refurbished or recycled electronics to help with environmental conservation (77%). The share is high among Sustainability Orientated consumers as well (66%) but drops drastically among the No Interest in Recycling folk (16%).

In the US, the disparities between groups are even wider. Four-fifths of Sustainability Supporters (81%) agree with the statement, which drops to 47% of Sustainability Orientated consumers and just 14% of the recycling averse group.

The study also goes into details about the factors that could motivate each audience group to consider opting for refurbished tech products. The data shows that rigorous testing, a reputable seller and a guarantee may offer respondents the security they require to purchase a refurbished device. For the No interest in recycling group in the UK, it is especially important that refurbished products show zero usage (18%) compared to the other two groups (7% each). This relatively high emphasis  is also evident among No Interest in Recycling consumers in the US too.

To explore these details and other relevant data points in more detail, get in touch

The data reveals that an appetite for sustainable tech products and refurbished products, with certain caveats. While a large portion of consumers now entertain the possibility of purchasing sustainability-focused tech, it still needs to be at the right price and without compromising on other key features. Brands and marketers that strike the right balance between providing sustainable tech and adequate price-to-quality ratio might well make gains in market share in the competitive consumer electronics space.

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